Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


The Persuasiveness of Formal Indication


Philosophy Department


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



Social and Behavioral Sciences


The problem with communicating the findings of phenomenological researches is a consequence of the disclosive character of phenomenological descriptions. Phenomenological descriptions are supposed to be revelatory, coincide with the self-showing of the things themselves, and do no violence to the self-showing of the phenomena. These features of phenomenological descriptions lead to the peculiar character of their expression. The peculiarity of descriptions expression has the effect of making them more difficult to communicate, not less so. Because of the peculiarity of phenomenological descriptions they are often listened to dubiously: since phenomenological descriptions use language idiosyncratically, even the most charitable interlocutors can doubt that they mean anything. This may be a problem for philosophy in general but it is a particularly acute problem for a descriptive philosophy. If we are not relying upon deductive argumentation which can force the assent of the listener we need to be sure we have a way of overcoming the listeners doubts. In this essay I elucidate how phenomenological descriptions can be communicated and be persuasive. I argue that phenomenological descriptions are communicated as emptily intended expressions and because of this the listener can also be persuaded of their truth. To make the case I show that Heideggers method of formal indication is a form of philosophical communication designed to deal with the problems of sharing phenomenological findings.

Conference Name

Canadian Society for Continental Philosophy

Conference Location

Vancouver, Canada

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